Peer-reviewed clinical study: Apollo Neuro is the first wearable technology scientifically proven to improve HRV

Man with black shorts and sneakers setting up weight in a gym setting.


Rest and recovery are critical in our ability to show up as our best selves. Marathon runners aren’t the only ones who deserve recovery. The latest neuroscience constantly reminds us that we cannot sustain high levels of performance (physical, mental, or emotional) if we do not take time to prioritize recovery to recharge our batteries. We all need to recover from our hectic schedules that have us rushing around chasing our kids, commuting, houseworking, or maximizing our workouts. A recently published double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial conducted by the University of Pittsburgh shows that the Apollo wearable can help us recover faster after a strenuous activity as measured by HRV. This can apply to an athletic pursuit, regular exercise, or a high-impact daily activity, so we can get back to it — better, faster, and stronger. 

What’s HRV?

Heart rate variability (HRV) is how much our heart rate changes over time and it can be used to understand how our bodies are recovering from stress throughout the day. HRV is not only our most accurate measure of how recovered we are, it’s also a measure of adaptability, our ability to respond to changes in our environment and bounce back from things that try to knock us down.

How to improve HRV: Sleep, breath, touch, movement, diet, hydration, age, mindfulness, illness, stress, alcohol

We all know it’s harder to get back up after we’ve been knocked down and we’re under-slept and overworked. An even more straightforward definition is that HRV is a gauge of our well-being. Pay extra close attention to HRV because it is one of the most important health discoveries of the century. From a scientific perspective, HRV describes the fluctuations in intervals between heartbeats. Our hearts don't beat at a consistent rate. Instead, our heartbeat depends on the specific demands on the body at each moment.

HRV is controlled by the relationship  between the two main branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls the body's automatic functions, like digestion, breathing, reproduction, immunity as well as survival responses. The ANS works tirelessly to maintain balance, or homeostasis, in the face of changing conditions within our bodies and the environment. At every moment, the two central branches exert opposing functions on the body: the sympathetic branch searches for threat and keeps us alive, while the parasympathetic branch calms us down and keeps us recovered. Balance between these two branches keeps us healthy and happy.

Parasympathetic branch activated  “rest and digest” Tension relief in shoulders and back Feel open and better able to connect Heart slows to pump blood more efficiently Digestion improves for better food absorption Reproduction system activates
Sympathetic branch activated “fight, flight, or freeze” Tension increases in back and shoulders Fast, shallow breathing to deliver oxygen to muscles, including heart Heart beats faster to send blood to muscles Digestion slows to conserve energy

Everyone knows that to increase fitness and performance, we have to train. But too much training can lead to injury and ultimately, hurt our performance. There’s a fine line between overdoing it, risking injury from overuse, and under-doing it, and not pushing our bodies to grow. We understand physical stress. When we spend thirty minutes shoveling snow, we’re sore and exhausted and can’t wait to veg on the sofa with a cup of hot tea. After a mentally stressful day, we don’t always offer ourselves the same grace to recover. We deserve a little time to recover from mental and emotional stress too. 

“Apollo is the only wearable device available that will modulate your heart rate variability to a higher level and put you in a meditative state without meditating. You’re calmer, you’re more relaxed, you’re able to focus,” - Joseph C. Maroon, MD, FACS

Getting adequate restorative sleep is the ultimate form of recovery. For some, recovery also looks like a day off, gentle yoga, and stretching — it takes time and intention. We don’t always give ourselves time to recover from a workout or a stressful day — we’re immediately on to the next activity. For tracking toward optimal health, heart rate variability trends in the upward direction are what matter. There will always be busy days that get in the way of our recovery, getting enough sleep, and taking time to relax. As shown in the recently published peer-reviewed athletic recovery study from The University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, the Apollo technology is the first and only wearable that improves your HRV just by putting it on. It fits into real life and continues to support our health and nervous system balance even when we don’t have an extra hour to recover with yoga, meditation, or a nap.

Title: Benefits of Improved HRV Improved sleep, better focus, improved reproductive health, quicker recovery, better relationships, stronger immune system Top right: Improved performance

The quest for high HRV

If you’ve been following the trends in health tracking, HRV has entered the room as the biometric that matters most. Many people ask “what’s a good HRV?”.  The answer is that HRV is highly individualized, so rather than getting attached to hitting a specific number, seek an upward trend in HRV scores. Athletes and non-athletes use Oura Rings, Whoop, and Apple Watches to track HRV and keep a pulse (😏) on when it’s time to recover and when it’s a good time to push it. These tools are great for tracking and monitoring metrics like HRV, but figuring out the ideal combination of nourishment, sleep, and activity to optimize our HRV is personal and it usually takes months to find your groove. 

Quality sleep + healthy movement = stress resilience & improved HRV

In the following study, experts at the University of Pittsburgh evaluated using Apollo vibrations as a method to decrease recovery time while improving recovery metrics, like heart rate variability (HRV). Researchers sought to understand how vibration affects the brain in a way that could result in physical or physiological recovery. The team specifically looked at how Apollo vibrations impact the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). 

The hypothesis:

Apollo vibrations will aid in recovery after a strenuous activity – increasing subjects’ HRV.

Key objectives:

  • Assess the impact of Apollo Neuro vibrations on physiological measures of recovery as measured by high frequency heart rate variability, heart rate, and skin conductance.

  • Assess the impact of Apollo Neuro vibrations on measures of recovery as measured by EEG. 

  • Assess the impact of Apollo Neuro vibrations use on subjective measures of recovery as  measured by patient reported outcomes surveys.

High Frequency HRV: Heart rate variability (HRV) refers to the physiological variation in the interval between heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval and is typically measured in units of milliseconds (source). 

EEG: Electroencephalography measures the electrical activity in different areas of the brain. EEG frontal alpha and theta were used as indices for brain recovery from physiological stress. 

SCR: Skin conductive response is an “indirect measure of sympathetic autonomic activity that is associated with both emotion and attention” (source).

Subjective Measures: Subjective measures refers to how researchers measure what people say — based on open-ended questions and surveys based on feelings.

The study:

Participants included 22 (21 male and 1 female) healthy University of Pittsburgh collegiate athletes. Each athlete’s biometrics, physical performance, and subjective experience pre- and post- exercise challenge were measured, with and without the use of Apollo Neuro technology. The following research examined whether wrist-worn vibration was associated with increased subjective, physiological, and neural indices of recovery from a physical exertion.

HRV of a healthy, elite athlete vs. HRV of an unhealthy, unrecovered athlete

The design:

To examine the effect of using the Apollo wearable on recovery in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial, the following study took place.

Baseline physiology was assessed based on EEG and ECG calibration for each athlete. Athletes subjectively rated the vibrations to identify which they found the most calming. Participants rode the stationary bike strenuously for 30-second periods. Participants had two minutes to rest where they were randomized to one of three vibrations on their wrist or no vibration at all. Immediately after resting, participants rated how stressed they were and how they felt their physical recovery went. Participants underwent a grip-strength assessment.  Before and after pedaling, participants also completed a mood-rating questionnaire. Repeat steps three through seven.

Participants' recovery with and without the Apollo wearable was then compared to determine the extent of effects from the vibrations.

The outcome:

Participants showed statistically significant improvements in physiological recovery within the two minute recovery period, as measured by HFHRV, with Apollo vibrations compared to without (p=0.014). No statistically significant changes were observed in SCR and subjective measures of recovery. This was likely due to the small sample size of the study and the considerable short duration of measurements.

Electroencephalography (EEG) activity collected for the study, while correlated to the subjective recovery, was not associated with the physiological recovery.The researchers state that the Apollo wearable vibrations are likely directly affecting the baroreceptors in the skin and triggering relaxation and recovery which in turn yields a change in the EEG activity. Therefore, any changes in EEG activity would only be noticeable after the completion of recovery. The current study did not collect post-recovery data and therefore this change in EEG activity could not be observed.

The Apollo wearable improves HRV - Graph showing time (seconds) to HRV (ms)

The Apollo wearable increases HRV in the short and long term

In a double-blind placebo controlled crossover clinical trial, Apollo vibrations were scientifically proven to increase HRV by roughly 11% within three minutes. This trial took place in a highly controlled sound-proofed and electromagnetically shielded university lab and HRV was measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG), which is the gold standard method used to assess HRV. ECG is much more accurate than any consumer wearable.

In our ongoing sleep study, we see an 11% increase in HRV as measured by the Oura Ring over three months of consistent Apollo wearable use. For those who track HRV on a consumer wearable, such as Oura, Apple Watch, or Whoop, remember that the goal is to see your HRV trending upward week over week, month over month. Don’t get down on yourself if you have a low-HRV week. That just means you need a little extra time to rest and recover before you get back to it. There is no known peak to HRV, so it can be fun to see how high you can get it to go as you get stronger. Remember, that whether you are starting a new exercise, yoga or meditation routine or starting out with Apollo Neuro, there may not be noticeable improvements in HRV on your wearable trackers until you have 3-6 weeks of consistent practice under your belt. To get best HRV results with the Apollo wearable, use it consistently (3+ hours a day, 5+ days a week) for 4-12 weeks. 

A graphic showing what increases and decreases HRV.

What does this mean to you?

If you exercise regularly, work strenuous jobs where you are on your feet all day, need to sustain performance in physical tasks, or simply need a way to recover better, use Apollo’s Rebuild and Recover mode. The Rebuild and Recover mode is designed to help you recover faster and better. Ensure the intensity is set to a comfortable level without being distracting and play the mode while you recover.